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What Is Negligence By a Property Owner in California?

Posted by Inna Gorin | Nov 28, 2017

Negligence is a breach of the duty of care owed by one person to another. If a property owner fails to use reasonable care under the circumstances by either doing something they should not have done or not doing something they should have done, they can be considered negligent.

A common premises liability question in Los Angeles County is when can you hold a property owner liable for your injuries? In basic terms, premises liability cases involve property owners' responsibility to maintain safe conditions for anyone on their property.

If an accident or injury occurs to a visitor or tenant living on the property, the property owner is legally liable. If it can be proven, their negligence led to the injury. 

Negligence Laws in California

The liability of the owner to the injured party is determined based on the negligence on the part of the property owner. Under California negligence laws, an injured person due to an owner's negligent management of their property might be entitled to compensatory damages.

The absolute key term here is “negligence.” However, determining negligence will depend on specific circumstances, including the duty the owner owes visitors to ensure their safety.

Our injury attorneys can explain how this duty can shift within the specific situation. Several standards define negligence or a failure to exercise reasonable ordinary care.

For example, determining negligence in a car accident case requires a particular set of criteria; a premises liability case will need another pack. A property owner has a legal duty to make sure conditions don't exist on their premises that could lead to an injury of other people.

This could include customers in a store, guests at a residence, and other locations.

If you have been injured on another person's property due to negligence, you should consult our law firm.

Our attorneys will need to thoroughly review the facts and circumstances to determine if you are eligible for compensation.

Now that we have discussed a basic overview of negligence above let's look at the legal language involving negligence.

Legal Elements of Negligence

If a person sustains an injury on another individual's property, certain elements have to be established to determine if they were negligent.

These elements include:

  • A duty the owner owes the injured party
  • A breach of that duty by the property owner
  • The actual injury
  • The connection between the breach of duty and the injury

Again, it's critical to understand that the property owner had a responsibility to take steps to ensure people of the premises would not suffer harm. To pursue compensation, the injured person has to provide sufficient evidence that the property owner was negligent in fulfilling their legal duty, and their negligence directly caused their injury.

A property owner's legal liability for injuries that resulted from alleged dangerous conditions on the premises will significantly depend on the scope of the owner's duty of care toward the injured person and whether or not the duty was breached.

The relationship between the owner and injured person is a material factor in determining an owner's exact degree of care.

This will vary depending on whether the injured party was invited or a trespasser.  Someone who was invited enters the property with an implied invitation by the owner. A property owner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee.

For example, store owners are legally held to a high standard of care or duty for their visitors' safety. A store owner can be considered negligent if they fail to inspect the premises regularly or warn of any dangers.

Typical Example of Negligence by a Property Owner

In Los Angeles County, The most common type of negligence occurs in premises liability cases, such as a slip and fall accident.

There are many places where premises liability accidents happen. This includes a shopping mall, department store, grocery store, or apartment building.

A requirement for a slip-and-fall case is that the owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect on the premises. In a slip and fall case, this requirement can be established by the injured person by proving that:

  • The owner placed the object or substance on the floor
  • The owner knew it was there but negligently failed to remove it
  • The object or substance was on the floor long enough to exercise a duty of care, and it should have been reasonably discovered and removed

In simple terms, the injured person has to prove the owner created the dangerous condition, and could the property owner have prevented the accident? Remember, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in injury to another person.

What is Duty of Care?

Under California personal injury law, a duty of ordinary care is a property owner's responsibility to behave by using an appropriate amount of care not to cause any harm to other people.

In other words, it is the legal responsibility put on a person by society to interact with other people safely and acceptably to avoid causing injuries.

It's not defined by what one person believes is reasonable but by a group of jurors who must all agree by applying a standard of what a reasonably prudent person would have done by exercising ordinary care under the same circumstances.

Negligence is the key concept in most personal injury cases. Suppose a case makes it to the trial. In that case, it is for the jury in each case, based on the instructions by the judge, to decide whether, under the specific facts of the case, the property owner was negligent and breached their duty of care to the injured party.

Call Our Injury Lawyers for Help

If you have been injured due to a property owner's negligence, you should consult with a Los Angeles, personal injury lawyer at Injury Justice Law Firm LLP.

We have the legal knowledge and resources necessary to litigate your personal injury case successfully.

Whether your case involves a slip and fall accident, premises liability case, construction accident, or any other type of incident caused by negligence, our experienced lawyers will guide you through the legal process. We can explain the critical concepts of negligence and duty of care and work aggressively to ensure total compensation for your injuries.

We offer a free case evaluation and don't charge a fee unless we win your case. Call our law firm at 310-734-7974 to review the details of your case.

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About the Author

Inna Gorin

Inna Gorin, the founding Partner of Injury Justice Law Firm modeled the Firm after her ideals and principles of what skilled, aggressive and tenacious representation of individual clients should embody. Ms. Gorin's mission is to level the playing field, and provide her clients with the same level...


If you have been injured in an accident, our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys will protect your legal rights and help you recover compensation for your injuries. We are available 24/7 for your risk free initial consultation in Beverly Hills, Encino, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley, Valencia and Ventura County areas.